You might say I am something of a pizza dough expert. I mean, I literally wrote the book on pizza dough. It changed the way I think about food. It all started when I was twenty-three and, like most twenty-three-year-olds, I was totally broke.
I had made a huge batch of pizza dough to take to a make-your-own–pizza potluck. At the last minute, the host cancelled it and I was left with about 3 pounds of dough. To start, I did the obvious thing and pinched off a small ball of it to make pizza. I rolled it out thin, topped it with pesto, goat cheese and some jarred roasted tomatoes and popped it into a hot oven. It got bubbly and brown and was delicious with a $3 Trader Joe’s Chardonnay.
The next morning, seeking something fun to make for brunch, I experimented with filling the dough with a mixture of butter, cinnamon, and sugar, rolling it up and then slicing and baking it into cinnamon rolls. Huge success. That night, I made Indian curry, and ended up frying pieces of the dough into a quick and surprisingly authentic-tasting naan flatbread. Pizza dough was my canvas, and I, le artiste, couldn’t keep from continuing to transform it into something new.
Please note that, while homemade pizza dough is the bomb-diggity and so easy to make, using store-bought pizza dough (usually about $2 at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods) is totally legit and a great timesaver. Just let it come to room temperature before using. And for the gluten-free homies out there, while not as versatile as regular pizza dough, this is the absolute best gluten-free pizza dough recipe on the planet.
Read on for a sampling of quick, bistro-worthy pizza dough ideas:
These can even be prepared the night before and left in the refrigerator and then baked in the morning. Roll dough out into a 12-inch by 8-inch rectangle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon, sugar and a pinch of salt. Roll up tightly to form an 8-inch cylinder. Cut into 1-inch slices and arrange in a round, buttered baking dish. Let rise in the dish for about 20 minutes, then bake at 375°F for 15-17 minutes, until brown and puffy. To make a quick glaze, combine 1/4 cup melted butter with 1/2 cup powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla and drizzle over hot cinnamon rolls.
Roll out a small ball of dough, sprinkle it lightly with sea salt (or chopped garlic and fresh parsley if I'm feeling festive), and fry it in 1 teaspoon of olive oil on both sides until it is bubbly and browned in spots. Can also be served like naan with Indian food (brush it with ghee or melted butter if you’re doing it this way).
While not a strictly traditional tortilla recipe, thinly rolled and lightly fried bits of pizza dough double very tastily as flour tortillas. I especially love to fill them with black beans, crumbled cotija or feta cheese, sliced avocado, chopped onions and cilantro for a quick, vegetarian taco.
Parmesan Bread Sticks:
These are a great way to make a simple salad seem like a special dinner. Simply roll pieces of pizza dough into thin-ish 6-inch cylinders and twist. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and sea salt and bake at 400°F for 10-12 minutes until the bottoms are browned and the cheese is melted and brown in spots.
Roll dough into a baguette shape (or divide into smaller baguettes to make amazing sandwich rolls), score the top with a sharp knife on the diagonal a few times. Let rise for about 30 minutes, then bake at 375°F on a floured baking sheet.
Roll 2” balls of dough into 8” circles, about ¼” thick. Preheat an oven to 450 °F and lightly flour a baking sheet (or 2). Arrange the pitas on the sheet(s) with a little space between them and bake them for 4-5 minutes, or until it has completely ballooned. Pull out of the oven, wrap in a clean dishtowel until ready to use. Then fill with falafel, hummus, veggies, or whatever you like.
Fancy Flatbread Crackers:
Use a floured rolling pin to roll out on a floured cutting board or on parchment paper until extremely thin (like, 1/16th of an inch, if you can manage it). Transfer to a baking sheet (flour the sheet or place the parchment you used to roll it out directly onto the sheet). Prick the dough all over with a fork, then brush with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt (and pepper or grated parmesan, if you’re feeling fancy) and bake at 400°F until crispy (8-10 minutes, max). Let cool, then crack into pieces and serve with cheese, jam, honey, etc.
I know it seems crazy, but you can totally make fresh bagels out of pizza dough. Just roll 6” ropes into doughnut-shaped loops, and boil in salty water for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a floured or parchment-lined baking sheet, brush the tops of the dough loops with egg (skip this step for vegan bagels), and sprinkle with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, minced onion, or your favorite topping and a little salt. Bake at 400°F for 10-12 minutes, or until golden-brown and puffy.
Garlicky Dinner Rolls:
Divide a pound of pizza dough into 10 balls. Place in the center of a greased pie plate and brush liberally with melted butter. Top with a couple of cloves of minced garlic, a pinch of salt and some chopped fresh rosemary if desired. Let rise about 25 minutes, then bake at 375°F for about 25 minutes, or until golden-brown and puffy.
So good. Roll dough into 3” rounds, then use a lightly-floured shot glass to cut the centers out (keep the centers -- they’ll be doughnut holes). Combine ¾ cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon in a bowl and set aside. Heat a few inches of vegetable, coconut, grape-seed or canola oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until a drop of water makes it pop and sizzle loudly. Working in batches, fry the doughnuts and their holes in the hot oil, then use a metal slotted spoon or tongs to fish out the doughnuts and toss immediately in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Let cool slightly, then serve immediately (these are especially delicious with coffee or hot chocolate).
Did you try any of these? Do you have other ideas for pizza dough? Let me know in the comments!